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Arracacha root can be found in many different shapes and often has a curved, gnarled appearance to an elongated, tapered shape, averaging 5-25 centimeters in length and 5-8 centimeters in diameter. The semi-smooth skin is dotted with spots, bumps, and wrinkles, and there are three main varieties with off-white, purple, and yellow skin tones. Underneath the surface, the flesh is starchy, firm, and dense with a cream-colored, pale yellow, to purple hue. There is also a faint purple ring that appears in the flesh depending on the variety, and each root emits a pungent odor. When cooked, Arracacha root is crisp, tender, and sticky with a nutty, slightly sweet flavor that is reminiscent of roasted chestnuts, celery, and cabbage. Attached to the root are green and purple streaked stems with frilly, parsley-like leaves.
Arracacha root is available in the fall through winter.
Arracacha, botanically classified as Arracacia xanthorrhiza, is an edible, parsnip-like root that forms tall, leafy stalks that can grow up to one meter in height and is a member of the Apiaceae family. Known by many names including Virraca, Apio Criollo, Apio, Mandioquinha, Zanahoria Blanca, Batata-salsa, and Batata-barona, Arracacha is native to the Andes mountains and is one of the most popular root vegetables commercially grown in regions of South America. There are over fifty varieties of Arracacha in South America, and one plant can yield over six pounds of clustered roots. Arracacha root is favored for its dense texture and nutty, sweet flavor, and is commonly used as a potato substitute in culinary dishes.
Arracacha root is an excellent source of calcium and vitamin C and contains some iron. The root is also a good source of fiber that can help regulate the digestive system, potassium which helps stabilize heart rate, and contains anti-oxidant properties to boost the immune system.
Arracacha root is not commonly consumed raw and is best suited for cooked applications such as boiling, roasting, and frying. All parts of the plant are edible including the stems, roots, and leaves, and the stems and leaves can be tossed into salads or minced as a flavoring for sauces and cooked meats. The roots are popularly cooked in soups and stews, sliced and baked, shredded and fried into fritters, pureed and mixed into dough for pasta, or blended into a savory filling for wraps or appetizer plates. The root can also be ground into a flour for baked goods and desserts, served with honey and papaya, or utilized as a potato substitute. Arracacha root pairs well with cilantro, coriander, nutmeg, carrots, raisins, and meats such as pork, poultry, and fish. The roots will keep up to one week when stored at room temperature in a cool, dry, and dark place. When stored in the refrigerator, they will keep 2-3 weeks.
In Brazil, Arracacha has been commercially cultivated for over one hundred years and is one of the most important roots grown in the country, providing income for many families. New varieties are also being developed that have a shorter growth cycle, allowing farmers to produce even more crops and use the root as a companion crop to coffee, beans, and maize. Despite its popularity in Brazil, Arracacha root has a different reputation in Bolivia and Peru and is seen as a “poor man’s food” predominately grown in home gardens. When used in traditional South American cooking, the root is used in torrejas, which is a fried dough made out of grated Arracacha, eggs, garlic, and flour. The root is also boiled and traditionally served with mashed potatoes, rice, cheese sauce, or soups.
Arracacha root is native to regions across the Andes mountains in South America and has been growing wild since ancient times. The root was then introduced to the rest of South America, including Brazil in the 19th century where it is highly cultivated. Today Arracacha root can be found at fresh markets in South America including, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, and it can also be found in smaller quantities in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Japan, Europe, North America, and Australia.
Recipes that include Arracacha Root. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Sabor Brasil||Arracacha Creamy Soup|
|Costa Rica Dot Com||Picadillo de Arracache|
|Costa Rica Dot Com||Arracacha Cake|
|Flowery Soul||Arracacha Gnocchi with Sage Butter|